Kentucky Derby Preview
It’s Derby time, one of my favorite events of the year, and despite a real lack of star power this time around, the Kentucky Derby almost always provides a good opportunity to make some money. I’ll run down the field here, and make some (somewhat) bold predictions along the way. As always, bet with your head, not over your head.
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1-Lookin at Lee: 20-1. The #1 post position doomed his Daddy (Lookin at Lucky) back in 2010, and it won’t do any favors for this one either. He does do his best running from the back, so hopefully he’ll get a decent spot to make a run. I’m not using him at all.
2-Thunder Snow: 20-1. None of the Dubai shippers have ever made an impact in the Derby, and I don’t think this one will either. He is however undefeated on dirt, which none of the prior UAE Derby winners were, so he has that working for him. Pass.
3-Fast and Accurate: 50-1. Expect him to be on or near the lead early. Then expect him to be in the back when they head for home. No shot.
4-Untrapped: 30-1. Won’t get the distance, as he faded in his last two races at 1 1/8. Not quite sure how his connections expect him to get 1 1/4.
5-Always Dreaming: 5-1. The likely second choice on Saturday looks FANTASTIC this week in workouts and ran the best race of his career in winning the Florida Derby, and is now 3-3 going two turns. His Sire, Bodemeister, ran second in 2011. A MUST use somewhere in your exotics, if not a win bet.
6-State of Honor: 20-1. Really tires hard, but really was no match for Always Dreaming in the Florida Derby. They were basically even at the top of the stretch and Always Dreaming ended up drawing off to win by 5 lengths. Looks pretty good this week, but probably won’t get the distance.
7-Girvin: 15-1. I liked as a live longshot after the Louisiana Derby, but a persistent foot issue has gotten me off the horse. The talent is there though, and if he’s healthy, could be a real threat at a big price.
8-Hence: 15-1. Here’s one to watch, and use underneath the winner. Really improving son of Street Boss won the Sunland Derby, not always the most important prep race, but note that the top 5 finishers in that race all improved in their next starts. Very tempting at 15-1.
9-Irap: 20-1. Speaking of improving after the Sunland Derby, all this son of Tiznow did was win the Blue Grass stakes at 24-1 in his next start. Getting good at the right time, but will need to be near the lead on Saturday to have a shot.
10-Gunnavera 15-1. This horse will not be anywhere close to the lead, and like his Daddy, Dialed In, will do all his running from the back of the pack. I usually don’t like to bet one run closers in the Derby, but they’ve won them before. This horse can’t get 25 lengths back and expect to pass 19 other horses in this race.
11-Battle of Midway: 30-1. It’s not a banner year for the Southern California contingent, but he ran his tail off in the Santa Anita Derby, and came up a little short. He’s improving, and could factor in the pace for sure. Not saying to use him, but wouldn’t be completely shocked if he ran big.
12-Sonneteer: 50-1. He’s a maiden (has never won a race), and his sire is a 2 time champion sprinter. So, what’s he doing in here? He did come on late in the Arkansas Derby to get a minor piece, and should be sitting pretty far back again in here. Would I be shocked if he ran on to complete your exotics? Absolutely not. The Desormeaux brothers were a great story in last year’s Triple Crown, can they repeat that magic again?
13-J Boys Echo: 20-1. A live longshot in my opinion. Didn’t really run a lick in the blue Grass but got into a lot of trouble early, and didn’t seem interested in running after that. He ran great in the Gotham Stakes 2 races ago, and if you’re wiling to ignore the Blue Grass disaster, he looks live at 20-1. I think I’m willing.
14-Classic Empire: 4-1. The Favorite on Saturday bounced back from some earlier season disappointment to win the Arkansas Derby, and looks to be on the top of his game. Super talented, well bred, great Jockey, great Trainer,Champion 2 year old, and a Derby winning owner. All the makings of a Derby Champion. That being said, I might leave him off my ticket.
15-McCraken: 5-1. As of press time (Wednesday evening) this is my Derby horse. He was clearly the second choice headed into the Spring preps where an ankle injury sidelined him for a bit. His first race after the injury was a third place finish in the Blue Grass. Assuming he “needed the race”, he should be back in peak form and ready to run a huge one on Saturday.
16-Tapwrit 20-1. Working well this week but ran really poorly in the Blue Grass last time out. Hard to ignore just how bad that performance was, but if you’re willing to overlook it, he’s pretty good. I can’t look past it, and will pass on Tapwrit.
17-Irish War Cry 6-1. Very impressive winner of the Wood Memorial, and the only horse in the field with two triple digit speed figures. Threw in a clunker in the Fountain of Youth which had folks worried, but he quickly rebounded during that Wood performance. Definitely a top threat to take home the roses.
18-Gormley 15-1. The Santa Anita Derby wasn’t the most impressive race, speed wise, but at the same time you can’t take anything away from the winner. You may remember the Owner trainer combo of Jerry & Ann Moss, and John Shirreffs from the great Zenyatta back in 2009/10, but these connections also won the Kentucky Derby with Giacomo in 2005.
19-Practical Joke: 20-1. Good, solid, hard knocking horse, but I don’t think he can get the distance on Saturday. Jockey Joel Rosario won the Derby with Orb a few years back.
20-Patch 30-1. This one eyed horse could be a future star, but this is asking a lot of him, as he’s only raced 3 times in his career. Would be a really cool story though if he ran big.
Seth, a die hard fan of Orioles Baseball and Tar Heel Basketball has been in the gambling industry for 20 plus years. He's been trying to find the secret to picking winners even longer than that. Seth lives in Eldersburg Maryland with his wife and two children.